In early December a federal judge in the U.S. district court of Brooklyn ordered the federal government to reinstate DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that provided undocumented young people with the right to live, work and study in the United States without fear of being detained or deported.
The court ordered the Department of Homeland Security to allow eligible immigrants to file applications for DACA. The court decision reversed the current practice of the Department, which had refused to consider new applications. It also ordered Homeland Security to publish the changes to its current policy on its website.
Under the Trump administration, DHS had reduced the term of DACA to one year and restricted work permits granted under DACA to a year. The judge ordered the department to restore DACA status and work permits to the full 2 years.
DACA recipients, or DREAMERS, have to prove they were brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, have lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007, have a high school diploma or GED or have served in the armed forces, and have not committed any criminal violations. Under the Obama administration over 800,000 undocumented people received DACA. An estimated 300,000 additional undocumented young people will now have the opportunity to apply.
The court decision marks the latest action in a prolonged legal battle that the Trump administration has waged against the DACA program. In summer 2020 the Supreme Court found that although the government might have the right to end the program, it had not followed the proper legal procedures for doing so. The December ruling builds on that decision.